If these walls could talk


If these walls could talk they would speak of truth and love and death and life and laughter and pain. Each wall strategically placed, to capture the cries in the night, the love that's made and the sounds of children running up the halls. My parents never knew what foundation they were laying when they built this home in the 70s. I bet they never thought about what the future would potentially hold, because really, who wants to think about not being around to see your children grow old and having children of their own who they would never meet. I bet all they thought about was growing old together in between this structure they held so dear. I think about it. But I guess only because I have lived past their deaths. My childhood memories of our house are comfort when the pain of being parentless is too heavy. Our house was a permanent revolving door that welcomed anyone who needed rest. I feel like I watched my mum and dad fill cups up as people came and went from near and far. I'm not sure if that was actually the reality, but that was the way my young eyes saw it. 20 years ago next week we left on a holiday and came back without a mother, my dad coming home without his wife. Due to my extended hospital stay, the rest of my family entered this changed house before me. I wondered if the walls knew it then. I wonder if the walls moved with the wails of sorrow that would've poured out. Their foundation was no longer stable. Or the same. I wonder if that's why I look at the visible cracks now and see them as beautiful and necessary? I remember coming home from the hospital to the entire family sitting in the living room. The room was different. It now reeked of my mother's loss, no longer the sweet smell of Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers perfume that she wore daily. The sorrow bled from the walls and it became too much to bear, so we parted way with these walls. I wonder if it felt our absence as much as we felt its? 17 years after we sold it my husband and I bought it back. I had a sudden panic before we moved in that the walls would still only speak of sorrow, but to my delight, they sang sweet songs of beauty and my parents legacy. In the 4 years that have passed since owning our house (again), it has literally had hundreds of people we love adding their words and songs to these walls. Its held an engagement party, a wedding, Steve's 40th birthday, kids parties, a 21st birthday, and most precious to us, the birth of our youngest son. The living room walls that held such sorrow have now heard the sounds of labour and pure delight as I birthed Scout, in a pool right in the middle of the room. I sat on the mattress afterwards, surrounded by my three boys. I looked up and saw the tribe of women (and Steve) around me. These women had also shared the pain and the beauty inside these walls. 20 years ago my mum hosted my Nana's 70th birthday party at our house. People came and went all day, celebrating the amazing Valerie, eating my mums delicious baking. That was the last time my mum's sisters saw her alive, and one of the very last times Nana saw her daughter. Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting my Nana's 90th birthday. I think of my Nana and what she has endured for 20 years without her daughter. I'm sure it's as unthinkable to her as it is for me. Yesterday I sat and watched this woman and thought about the 90 years she has lived before now. God has been good to her, to her sorrow, as He has been to me, and my sorrow. And will continue to be. Yesterday these walls heard familiar voices, some they have listened to for over 45 years. I wonder if it sounded as sweet to them as it did for me? Valerie sat like a queen with her tribe around her (minus two grandchildren that couldn't come). What an honour it is to call her the matriarch of our family. I know these walls will hold her voice in them for another 90 years to come.

Miriam Ackroyd